After two years of legal battles and an international campaign calling for his release, Lennox, a 7-year-old pit bull-terrier mix, has been put down in Belfast.
Lennox was seized from his owners on May 19, 2010, because the Belfast City Council dog warden deemed him a “public danger” and sentenced the dog to death. Pit bulls are illegal in Northern Ireland.
Caroline Barnes and her family, the dog’s owners, argued that Lennox wasn’t even a pit bull, never attacked anyone and could be relocated outside of Northern Ireland, but over the past two years, two lower courts have ruled that Lennox should be destroyed.
The case went to the Court of Appeal with Barnes' lawyers arguing that Lennox wasn’t dangerous, had behaved in custody and that the law against pit bulls included exemptions and alternatives to death. However, a dog handler retained by the city council testified that the dog had a severe personality defect, and judges dismissed Barne’s appeal on July 10.
"There were no such measures that could be applied in this case that would address the concerns relating to public safety," the Belfast City Council said in a statement.
Social media campaigns to save the dog, as well as an online “Save Lennox” petition that garnered more than 200,000 signatures, spurred protests from Belfast to New York to Australia. Celebrities and politicians a stepped in to try to save Lennox.
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Boxing champion Lennox Lewis called for the dog to be released, and dog-training expert Victoria Stillwell — host of TLC’s “It’s Me or the Dog” — offered to have Lennox brought to America where he wouldn’t be in contact with the public. Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson even called on the city council to reconsider.
"As a dog lover, I am very unhappy with the outcome of this case," Robinson said.
But their attempts to save Lennox failed.
Today, the Belfast City Council issued a statement that it had humanely destroyed “one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs” that its appointed expert had ever come across. The council said it had put the dog down in the name of public safety despite “a sustained campaign of abuse” against city officials, including threats of harm and death.
The Web has been full of denunciations of the judges and officials involved in Lennox’s case, and council members say they’ve received death threats and letters doused in gasoline. One city worker reported that her tires had recently been slashed.
Lennox was put to sleep Wednesday morning, and according to a Facebook page devoted to saving the dog, the Barnes family wasn’t allowed to see him before his execution.
An official statement from the family reads, “We have been denied the opportunity to say goodbye. We have also been told that we cannot collect his body and bring Len home. We have been informed, however, that we will receive 'some' ashes in the mail.”
On Tuesday, Victoria Stillwell appeared on "Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell" to discuss Lennox's case. You can watch her HLN interview below.
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